Friday, April 21, 2017

Happy Earth Day!

Tomorrow is Earth Day, and even though we only celebrate our planet once a year, it’s important to think green every day! Maybe your home is filled with stuff you’d normally throw away or toss in the recycling bin. Well, it’s time to change that way of thinking, and take a fresh look at your cast-offs to see how they could be reinvented in useful ways around your home.

For example, many first aid and health supplies come equipped with packaging that’s every bit as useful as the product itself (though in different ways, of course). Here are some examples of potential trash you can turn into treasure:
  • Boxes from bandages and gauze. Save these boxes until Christmas rolls around, then wrap them like tiny presents and hang them from the tree. You’ll have one-of-a-kind ornaments for free!
  • Cardboard rolls from gauze. Dismantle the nests of rubber bands in your junk drawer, and snap them around the empty roll.
  • Plastic and metal boxes from throat lozenges. Use them to corral all kinds of tiny odds and ends, like buttons, nails, needles, paperclips, stamps…the list goes on and on.
  • Reels from adhesive tape. Or any other kind of tape, for that matter. Wrap aluminum foil around the reels, attach a string to each one, and hang them in your fruit trees and berry bushes to discourage fruit-eating birds.
  • Any of the above. Turn it into dollhouse furniture. Just cover the box, reel, or roll with fabric or decorative paper, and presto! Depending on the size and shape of the object, you’ve got a bed, coffee table, dining table—or whatever your little interior designer desires.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Reuse Your Easter Eggshells

Eggshells have more uses than you can shake the Easter Bunny at. So when you and your kiddies are done with your Easter eggs this weekend, don’t throw the shells away. This list of what you can do with them is only the tip of the cottontail:
  • Soak them in water overnight, and then water your plants with the calcium rich “tea.”
  • Start seeds in eggshells. At transplant time, crack the shells and set the whole thing into the soil.
  • Give them to the birds as a source of essential grit. Crumble the shells, and either mix them with the seed in your feeder or serve them as a side dish.
  • Scatter crushed shells around plants to deter slugs, cutworms, and other crawling pests.
Have a Happy Easter, and thanks for reading!

Friday, April 07, 2017

Suffering from Stuffy, Stale Smells?

Now’s the time to clear the air inside of your home after it’s been closed up all winter long. But if you use chemical air-fresheners, all you’re doing is filling the air with chemicals that cover up the unpleasant aromas. They also interfere with your sense of smell, so you don’t notice the bad odors as much. Fortunately, there are many terrific natural alternatives to use instead:

Act with vim and vinegar. Just pour a little white vinegar into bowls, and set them around the problem areas. The acidic liquid will banish the unwanted smells pronto.

Burn your troubles away. Throw slices of dried citrus peel (your choice of flavors) into the fireplace. Your whole house will be filled with a wonderful fragrance.

Light a candle. Better yet, light several! But don’t bother with the fancy, scented kind. Like spray air-fresheners, they’ll add odor-masking chemicals to the air. On the other hand, a pure candle flame will simply burn away foul-smelling gases (even the ones that occur in bathrooms every now and then).

“Adopt” some houseplants. The more of them you have around your house, the cleaner and fresher your air will be. That’s because green plants naturally absorb and neutralize air pollutants. What’s more, they do an especially good job in small, enclosed rooms, where the air quality is usually the worst. Any kind of plant can perform this feat, but according to NASA scientists (who certainly know about tight spaces), the air-cleaning superstars are: aloe vera, chrysanthemums, English Ivy, fig trees, and spider plants.

Friday, March 31, 2017

Get Started on Spring Chores

Spring is here, and it's time to get a jump start on chores. First things first, take care of these two top tasks. And if you're suffering from the seasonal sniffles, I've got an easy fix you can whip up quick!

First Lawn Feeding

Give your lawn its first “official” feeding of the season by mixing 3 lbs. of Epsom salts per bag of natural dry lawn food. Apply the mixture at half of the recommended rate, and then wash it down with this Lawn Snack Tonic: 1 can of beer and 1 cup of dishwashing liquid mixed in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer, filling the balance of the sprayer jar with ammonia. Apply it to your lawn to the point of run-off to really get it off on the right root this spring.

Wash Your Windows

It’s also time for another spring chore—window cleaning. But rather than buy a pricey store-bought cleaner, whip up your own by mixing equal parts of ammonia and rubbing alcohol in a hand-held sprayer bottle. Just spritz it on the window, and wipe with a clean cloth to reveal a clear, streak-free window.

Got the sniffles?

If you've got spring allergies, you may have the ol’ stuffy nose to contend with. Now, don’t bother using medicines when there’s a safe, natural alternative. Instead of downing a decongestant, simply slice an onion in half, hold the cut side up under your nose, and take a big whiff. Your sinuses will be clear in no time flat!

Friday, March 24, 2017

Officially Spring!

It’s officially spring, and you know what that means—time for spring cleaning! Mix up a batch of All-Purpose Cleaner with 2 cups of rubbing alcohol, 1 tbsp. of ammonia, 1 tbsp. of dishwashing liquid, and 2 quarts of water combined in a bucket. Then, pour the cleaner into a hand-held sprayer bottle. This concoction is perfect to clean the living room windows, kitchen counters, bathroom tile, and just about any other hard surface!

Make sure to also spend some time cleaning up your yard. Run any leaves, tree branches, and other compostable materials through a shredder, and use it to start a new compost pile. Then douse the pile with this Compost Feeder Tonic: 1/2 can of beer, 1/2 can of cola, and 1/2 cup of dishwashing liquid mixed in a 20 gallon hose-end sprayer. Give the pile a good dose of this tonic once a month, and it’ll turn into black, crumbly, nutrient-rich compost before you know it!

If all that work leaves you with an
achin’ back, use a Homemade Ice Pack! It’s so easy to make – simply mix 1 part rubbing alcohol with 2 parts water, and pour into a heavy-duty zip-top plastic freezer bag. Squeeze all the air out, seal the bag up, and tuck it away in the freezer. Because alcohol doesn’t freeze, the contents will be slushy rather than rock hard—and all the more comfortable on your achin’ body. And when you’re sore-no-more, just pop it back in the freezer for next time.

Friday, March 17, 2017

Mower Maintenance Made Easy

It’s time to start thinking about mowing your lawn again! And that means keeping your mower in top shape. Follow these ten tips, and you’ll breeze through this year’s lawn mowing without a single hitch:

1. Don’t be a gas hoarder. Never store more than a month’s worth of gas in your garage or shed (and at today’s prices, who can afford to?). Old gas often collects condensation, which can gum up your carburetor.        

2. Give the blades plenty of elbow room. Before you start your mower, look underneath it. Clear away any built-up grass or other debris.

3. Sharpen the blade every third mowing. And keep at least two back-up blades handy and sharp.

4. Remember the oil. Depending on how much lawn you have and how often you cut it, change the oil at least once a season. Too little oil can put a death grip on your engine—a costly fate for you!

5. Keep the cooling fins clean.

6. Check the belt condition and tension each time before you mow.

7. Let your mower breathe clean air. Check out your air filter; replace it when it gets dirty. Otherwise, dirt will sneak into the engine, wearing down vital parts and making starting a real hassle.

8. Wipe down all the rubber and plastic parts with Armorall® once a month to keep them from drying out, cracking, and disintegrating.

9. Wipe down all chrome and metal parts with WD-40® every few weeks to keep them from rusting and sticking.

10. Check out all safety controls (automatic shutoff, all-wheel control, etc.) before each use.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Outdoor Chores

Hi there, folks!

Hopefully, you’re all enjoying any warm spring weather you’ve been having lately. If so, then you should take full advantage of the mild temperatures to get some much-needed outdoor chores done.

For starters, if your deck is looking really dirty, it’s time to clean it up! But rather than buying an expensive cleaner, just give it a good scrubbing with this homemade Deck and Porch Cleaner: 1 qt. of household bleach, ½ cup of powdered laundry detergent, and 2 gallons of hot water mixed in a bucket. Use a stiff broom or brush to scrub this solution into your deck. Then hose down the surface thoroughly, and enjoy the squeaky-clean shine.

Next, it’s time to get your lawn up off its “grass” for another growing season. So treat it to a dose of this Spring Wake-Up Tonic: 50 lbs. of pelletized gypsum, 50 lbs. of pelletized lime, 5 lbs. of bonemeal, and 2 lbs. of Epsom salts mixed in a wheelbarrow. Apply this mix with a broadcast spreader no more than 2 weeks before your first official lawn feeding. Your spring lawn will be up and at ‘em in no time!

Unfortunately, springtime chores in the great outdoors usually bring allergy symptoms right along with them. To clear your sinuses in a hurry, whip up this steamy soother: 1 tablespoon each of rosemary and eucalyptus mixed into 1 cup of boiling water. Place a towel over your head to make a tent, and sniff the fumes for 5 minutes to achieve blessed relief.

Then get out there, and kick some grass!